Your First Semester

Without question, the first semester is the most difficult and maybe the most exciting as well. So many things are new, and new things make some people uncomfortable. You may be worried about leaving your family and friends for the first time, about living with "strangers" here (they will not be strangers for long), about academic success, about your fluency in English, about any number of things.

The students we enroll from other countries are exceptional young men and women, and they do very well here. They distinguish themselves academically, they make outstanding contributions in student government and organizations, and they truly enjoy their years at Ohio Wesleyan.

If you need any help, you can always come to the IOCP office in Merrick Hall and you will be directed to the right place.

Every year students experience both ups and downs as they transition to a new culture, a new social life, and a new academic life. There may be a few struggles along the way, so be patient with yourself at first – there is so much to learn and to experience. We look forward to sharing your experiences as you learn to meet new challenges and reach new goals.

Stages of Cultural Adjustment

The process of cultural adjustment has long been known to international student advisors who work with foreign students from the early days of their arrival in the U.S. Professionals in Student Health and Student Counseling Services may also see students who are in the process of adjusting to their new surroundings. These students often demonstrate physical and psychological symptoms that may seem unrelated to the adjustment, though a closer look at exactly where the student falls in the adjustment process may prove useful in making the connection.

Commonly recognized stages of cultural adjustment are:

The Honeymoon Stage... characterized by exhilaration, anticipation, and excitement. The foreign student is fascinated with everything that is new. The students are embarking on their “dream come true,” which is to study in the United States. A student in the honeymoon stage will demonstrate an eagerness to explore the novelty of the new experience.

The Stress and Hostility Stage... characterized by frustration, anger, anxiety and sometimes depression. Following the initial excitement is frustration with the college bureaucracy and weariness of speaking and listening in English every day. Sleep patterns may be disrupted. Students may suffer from indigestion and be unable to eat. Students are upset because, although they have studied English, they don’t seem to understand anyone and perhaps people do not understand them.

Foreign students react to this frustration by rejecting the new environment in which they feel discomfort. The internal reasoning might be, “If I feel bad it’s because of them.” The student blames his external environment for his bad feelings. At this point foreign students usually display hostility towards the new culture. Some of these hostilities are translated into:

  • fits of anger over minor frustrations
  • excessive fear and mistrust of Americans
  • frequent absenteeism
  • lack of interest
  • lack of motivation
  • fits of weeping
  • marital stress
  • compulsive eating
  • compulsive drinking
  • and, at worst, complete withdrawal

Academic problems may begin during this stage. These students are in a difficult, painful stage. Students in this stage, in particular, need the tolerance and patience of those around them.

The Adjustment Stage... follows when the new foreign student begins to relax in a new situation and begins to laugh at minor mistakes and misunderstandings which previously would have caused major headaches in the hostility stage. This more relaxed state of being occurs after the student has established a support system and is able to man- age the size and complexity of the university, understands his/her studies, and begins to pass tests. Eventually, the student will begin to feel “at home” and ideally have the ability to function well in the United States as well as his/her home country.

This section was written by Nancy Mark, Associate Director of International Student Affairs at the University of Illinois/Urbana- Champaign, for the September 1990 issue of Optimizing Health: International Connections.

Roommates

Many new students are concerned about getting the “perfect” roommate. They may develop unrealistic expectations, hoping that the roommate will end up becoming their best friend for life, and as a result, they can only be disappointed. They may also be anxious about living with a “stranger.” Almost all new students tend to focus on this one person—the roommate—as crucial for happiness in college. But it’s not true. Your room is where you sleep and where you keep your things. But the whole campus is your living room, your backyard. There are plenty of students who spend very little time in their room—they study in the library, they hang out in the campus center, they spend time visiting friends, they watch television or play games in the common areas. The college is your home, and your room is only one little corner. It is less important than you might think at first. You need to explore the campus, starting with your residence hall. If you spend a lot of time in your room first semester, you are probably are not doing well adapting to your environment.

Similarly, your roommate is only one person among many who may become important to you. Your roommate does not need to be your friend; in fact, sometimes friends make terrible roommates. What is important is that you learn to get along with your roommate, to compromise, to work out schedules, and to create and maintain a certain harmonious environment in the room so that you both can function well. Learning to deal with people is an important part of college life at a residential campus like ours.

If you do have roommate problems, it is important to seek help before the problem gets out of hand. There are lots of people to help—RAs and RLCs in the residence halls and upper-class students who may have been through a similar situation. By all means, talk to people—starting with your roommate—if there is a problem.

Certainly, you will want to make friends in college, starting with the first day. To make friends, you need to meet people—lots of people. It is in the first few days that new students are very eager to meet others and begin to form friendships. If you ignore all the new students who arrive on Thursday, you may later find yourself on the periphery.

College may be the first time that you are thrown together with people who are very different from you—in background, culture, religion, in styles of dress and the like. Please keep an open mind about all the students you meet; you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find under the surface. They might be the best part of college life.

You are encouraged to be bold in your first few days and weeks. Go up to other students and introduce yourself, ask questions, invite the person to go eat with you, be open to doing things with new people. If you are shy or nervous or uncomfortable doing so, just fake it for a few days and see how it goes. With over 500 new students, all of whom need friends fast, you can’t afford to be shy. Remember that all of the freshmen are “in the same boat” and are all in a new environment and meeting new people.

Housing

Housing Policy: Because OWU is a residential campus, all students, domestic or foreign, are required to live on campus except those who are married, those who live with their parents, those who are 23 years of age or older, and those with a documented medical or psychological condition that makes it inappropriate for them to live on campus.

Housing Fee: The room charge for a standard multiple-occupancy room is the same for all the residence halls.

Notification of Housing Assignment: The Office of Residential Life attempts to place students according to their preferences, as indicated on the housing application, and will inform you of your room assignment late in the sum- mer. Since this notification occurs so late, you may not receive your assignment before you arrive and get your keys from IOCP. If you are eager to know your assignment before the mail reaches you, you can call Residential Life 1- 740-368-3175 between 08:30 and 12:00 or between 13:00 and 16:30 hrs. The assignments may well be complete in July.

Room Freeze: Once students arrive on campus, there is a room freeze for the first month of the semester. Students will not be permitted to change rooms until the room freeze is lifted. After that time, if students are having difficulties, they can discuss the problem with their student RA and the RLC for the residence hall and perhaps get on the waiting list for a change of room.

Staffing of Residence Halls  The halls are staffed by a professional Residential Life Coordinator (RLC) for each hall as well as several trained student Resident Assistants (RAs), perhaps one or two to each floor. Soon after you arrive, you should look around on your floor and find your RA (the RA’s room should be marked). RAs will be in training for much of time during the Monday and Tuesday that new international students arrive, but they will be on their floors part-time, especially late at night. Find your RA, introduce yourself, and let him or her know that you have arrived. They can be helpful with any problems you may have.

Vacation Housing: During these vacation periods University housing is officially closed, but will be open for international and US global nomad students who wish to remain in Delaware. There will be a $20 charge per night during these breaks if students wish to remain on-campus. Summer housing is also generally provided, at a reasonable rate. Vacation housing policies and charges are subject to change.

Since the regular food service does not operate during the breaks, students may either prepare their own meals in the kitchen facilities located in most residence halls or dine at local restaurants.

Vacation Homestays: The Visit Program, Christmas International House, and the Experiment in International Living are examples of programs administered by organizations or churches nationwide to provide opportunities for students from abroad to visit other areas of the United States and to spend time (especially over Christmas) with American families. Costs for these programs are generally low, although students are responsible for their own travel expenses. Information about these programs is available in IOCP.

Food Service

Meal Plans: You will receive a detailed information about University dining options in one of the summer emails. There are various meal plans, which vary according to purchasing power and price. However, all give you unlimited access to the two primary dining locations, Smith Dining and the Marketplace. See Dining Options for details.

New students are automatically assigned to the Gold plan over the summer. You can change your meal plan by completing the form from University Dining Services in the summer mailing, or you can make the change in person (at the Office of Residential Life) once you arrive, in the first week of the semester. No changes can be made after the first week of the semester until the following semester.

Dining Facilities: There are several dining areas on campus, with the largest cafeterias in Smith Hall and the Marketplace in the Campus Center. In addition, there is he Bishop Café Grill, the Merrick Café, and the Science Center Café.

Off Campus: In addition to the dining facilities on campus, students can also use their off-campus food points to buy food from several off campus stores such as Subway.

Student ID Card and Social Security Card

OWU student ID card: The student ID card, sometimes called the OWU card, only rarely serves its original purpose of providing identification on campus (after all, we know who you are). It is absolutely required, however, for many other purposes, including:

  • Residence hall access – halls are locked 24 hours a day and can be accessed by swiping your ID card.
  • Library books – a bar code on the ID is used to check books out of the library.
  • Food service – the ID, which has a record of your meal plan and points remaining on a bar code, is used to purchase food in the dining rooms.

The ID card can also be used as a debit card for certain functions on campus, if you deposit money into your OWU card account. There is no need to do this before you arrive on campus, and it is probably better to wait until you are here and can better see whether or not this is something you want and need. Some students choose to do this, and others do not. No refunds are made of money deposited to your OWU card account. Please read carefully the information they send before agreeing to use the debit card feature. If you do decide to deposit money in your OWU card account, you can use your card:

  • To buy books and other items in the OWU Campus Store.
  • To make copies in the copiers in the library and in the residence halls.
  • To buy drinks and snacks in some vending machines on campus.

For all these purposes, you can also use cash, so there is no need to put money on your ID card, although you may find it convenient to do so. All of the machines will take coins as well as a swipe of your ID card, and in the book store you can pay with real money, a check, or a credit card. The OWU card account is different and separate from your OWU student account. The OWU card account is only for the three uses mentioned above. The student account is for OWU fees and charges – tuition, room, board, and other special charges. Although your meal plan is on your ID card, the meal plan is paid for through the student account and not through the OWU card account.

Do not lose your card! There is a charge to replace a lost card – temporary or permanent. If you have deposited money in your OWU card account to use it as a debit card and then you lose your card, someone else could find it and spend your money. Please be careful with your ID card.

U.S. Social Security card: You will need to get a U.S. Social Security number in order to work on campus. As a nonimmigrant, you do not pay into the social security system nor can you receive benefits. But the system for the taxation of wages runs on social security numbers, and no employer can pay you without one.

The application process is facilitated by IOCP. Students are allowed to begin working on campus before a Social Security Card has been issued—but only for a few weeks. After students get a job offer, they must make arrangements with IOCP to travel to the Social Security Administration Office to make an application. International students are not allowed, by law, to apply for a Social Security number unless they have an offer of employment. 

Here is the Social Security Number Application (PDF) & Guidance (PDF) (see also “On-Campus Employment” above IOCP Resources page.)

Health Matters

New students please note the Student Health Center requirements: All new students are required to complete a Health/Immunization Form before enrollment in the University. A physical exam is NOT required. The documentation that needs completed is as follows:

  • A medical history
  • An immunization record
  • Tuberculosis screening
  • Insurance information
  • Consent for care

Pease note that we need a written and signed copy of your immunization record in English. If you were instructed to receive a TB test, you need to download the TB forms for your healthcare provider to complete. If you are under the age of 18 upon arrival at OWU, your parent/guardian needs to sign the Consent for care. All forms can be found on-line by going to the OWU Student Health Center page.

All immunization records and printed forms need returned to:

Student Health Center
Ohio Wesleyan University
223 W. William Street
Delaware, OH 43015
Phone 740-368-3160
Fax 740-368-3166
Email: health@owu.edu

OWU's University Student Health Center provides medical care on an outpatient basis to all students. The Health Center is staffed by physicians, a Certified Nurse Practitioner, a Registered Nurse, and an insurance specialist/secretary. Students whose illness necessitates hospitalization will be taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Delaware. 

OWU's Counseling / Mental Health Services seeks to assist all students in personal and professional development both within their college experience and beyond. Counseling Services works to help students of all intersecting identities successfully transition through various academic and interpersonal challenges to attain their individual goals and optimize their learning experiences.

Dental Services: The University does not provide dental health services. The International Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan does not cover dental services (except for those related to injury to the mouth). Dental services in the USA are very expensive. We strongly urge you to have a complete and thorough dental check-up before you depart your home country and strongly urge you get all dental issues attended to before your departure.

International students have access to Morneau Shepell's My Student Support Center, a 24/7 multi-lingual resource for a full range of counselling services and assistance services.

Health Insurance

Health care in the United States is expensive. All international students, for this reason, must have health insurance and are automatically enrolled in OWU's Student Health Insurance plan. Coverage begins as soon as the student enters the USA after 1 August.  

  1. Students and parents must review the details of this plan, including limitations and exclusions. Students participating in inter-collegiate athletics have particular limitations which must be reviewed.
  2. The cost for this insurance is around $2,500 per year (12 months).
  3. Students who have adequate coverage may waive this plan and receive a refund.  Submission of a waiver application must be made in a timely manner.
  4. Information will be sent at the beginning of each academic year about enrolment, cost, and applying for a waiver.

For information about the OWU Student Health Center go here.

For information about OWU Counseling Service go here.

Banking

On the first day of orientation, we will take students in groups to a local bank so that they can open accounts. The Delaware County Bank and Chase Bank have special sessions or tables’ set-up on campus just for new international students, to explain the system to them and to help them establish accounts. You can get a checking account, a savings account, and an ATM card. If you would prefer to have your account at another bank, that is perfectly fine–it’s just easier at the orientation for us to do it this way.

Because students might have had little experience handling money and little experience with banks, they sometimes use poor judgment and create financial problems for themselves. For example, with an ATM card, you have access to your funds 24 hours a day. If you are the sort that spends money too easily with such easy access to cash, then make it hard for yourself to get cash – don’t get an ATM card or put it away so that you don’t develop the habit of using it all the time. After all, if you don’t have cash on you, you can’t spend it.

Some students already have credit cards; others might get one in college. Many people cannot resist the lure of credit and find themselves buying things they can’t afford. When the monthly bill comes, they pay only the minimum amount instead of the full amount, and over time they accumulate large debt and high interest charges. The debt load can soon become unbearable. Before you get a credit card, you should consider whether or not you can handle the responsibility that comes with credit. Or, if you have a credit card, maybe you should put it away and use it only in emergencies. (A new iPhone is not an emergency!)

A checking account also requires care. If you write a “bad” check – that is, a check without sufficient funds in your account – the penalties are high. The store to which you wrote the bad check might charge $25 or more, and then your bank will add its own charges. Writing bad checks is considered dishonest. If you have a checking account, make sure you keep very careful track of your funds. If you use an ATM card against your checking account, make sure you keep very careful track of all cash withdrawals.

Safety

The Department of Public Safety at Ohio Wesleyan University has as its primary responsibility the safety and security of all members of the University Community. If you need more information about the OWU public safety, visit the OWU Campus Safety website. You should also sign up for OWU alerts to be aware of any emergencies on campus.

Receiving Overseas Communications

Mail: Student mailboxes are located in the basement of the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center (HWCC). Each student is assigned a mailbox and a mailbox number. Your mailing address will be:

(your name)
HWCC Box (your box number)
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, OH 43015
USA

Your mailing address does not include your room number and residence hall. 

Email: All students are given an OWU email account. It is very important that you check your OWU email frequently as official University communications are delivered to your OWU email account. Your user name for your OWU email consists of eight letters: the first letter of the first (given) name, the first letter of the second (middle) name (or the first letter of the first name again for those who have no middle name), and the first six letters of the last (family) name (if the last name has fewer than six letters, then just the whole last name is used and the username has fewer than eight letters).

Bulletins from IOCP: Informational bulletins will be sent out periodically from International Student Services to all international students via email. International students must set their email accounts to make sure that Bulletins from IOCP are not spammed-out.

Telephones:  IOCP will provide travels assistance during NISO for students to purchase a cell phone and a cell phone plan. If needed, students may use IOCP office telephones to make calls.

Contact Info

Location

International & Off-Campus Programs
Merrick Hall First Floor
Delaware, Ohio 43015
USA
P +1-740-368-3075
P +1-740-368-3070
E iocp@owu.edu

Social Media

Instagram

Office Hours

Academic Year (August through May): Monday to Friday from 08:30-12:00 and 13:00-17:00
Summer (June and July): Monday to Friday from 08:30-12:00 and 13:00-16:30